Digital interventions that support dementia care are essential now

The abrupt closure of many in-person support interventions because of COVID-19 made it necessary to find alternate ways to reach audiences. Transitioning to digital was required – but organizations, caught unprepared, struggled as they rushed to offer what they could arrange in a hurry.

As such, digital interventions can be used to reach families outside metros, families that need information and support  – and can be used to provide support in several languages. They can complement in-person interventions, or even be the sole intervention if target beneficiaries can’t be reached through in-person interventions.  Unfortunately, in the past,  service providers were reluctant and unconvinced about the practicality and potential benefit of digital support. A few years ago, for example, when I suggested that online support group meetings can benefit caregivers who cannot attend in-person meetings, I was told that caregivers would not attend online.

COVID-19 has shown us we are more ready for digital than everyone thought. Even with the abrupt thrust into lockdown, some providers were able to arrange some help – usually as webinars, live meetings, availability over phone, etc. Equally, people who needed support figured out how to participate in online webinars, how to locate help online, and use various “live” platforms (with support of friends and relatives).

The current situation mixes containment/ lockdown/ changes like work-from-home and need to protect seniors  while also starting “unlock” and attempts at “normalcy.” People are resuming work somewhat,  but with new social habits like masks and social distancing. Some in-person support will become possible again (with due standard operating procedures, of course). But much more caution is required, too. And use of digital platforms will stay.

The current initiatives do not exploit the full potential of digital platforms. Most offerings are short, standalone units, often without a clear agenda, and attended by people with widely varying background and needs. Much more can be done. We also need cohesive offerings for relevant caregiver education and support areas. For example – online caregiver training through well-designed multi-media content integrated with online opportunities to interact with experts for discussion and queries.

I suggest that it is time for organizations to design more effective digital interventions – whether awareness material, caregiver education, workshops, or support groups. Digital interventions can be used  to achieve a paradigm shift – they can inform and support hitherto unreached, under-served audiences from multiple socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds.

In this context  I’m sharing some work I did last year (before COVID) where I looked at the potential of digital interventions in India, usage patterns, expected growth, gaps in online support available and so on. Based on these, I included suggestions and priorities for digital interventions to improve dementia care support in India. I am  sharing it below  in the hope that it may be useful for pointers and generating  ideas.

Do have a look. You can read the article here: Digital interventions to support families living with dementia in India  or in the player below:

About Swapna Kishore
I'm a writer, blogger, and resource person for dementia/ caregiving in India, and deeply concerned about dementia care in India. On this blog I share my own caregiving journey, my experiences as a resource person for dementia care, and musings on life, aging, dementia in India, and such sundries. More about me and the work I do for dementia care in this set of pages: https://swapnawrites.wordpress.com/about-contact/

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